Cities Struggle with Not So Pretty Vacancy
May 03, 2011
Have you ever wondered why someone doesn’t just do something about that big weedy lot on the edge of downtown, or the house up the street that’s been boarded up for years? You might ask your state legislator--though they probably won’t have a good answer. All over the country, cities grapple with vacant and abandoned land and buildings. The issue is particularly problematic in places--think Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo--that have lost a large portion of their residents and jobs over the decades, but it’s also a growing challenge in parts of the South and West, where the bursting of the rea
A Victory for Democratic Foreign Policy
May 03, 2011
Dobson argues that Bin Laden's death was a victory for Democratic foreign policymakers and helped cement Obama's place in history.
April 28, 2011
Oil is up around $110 per barrel; the price of gas at the pump is approaching $4 per gallon. It’s clear the White House is nervous about this: Barack Obama has started mentioning gas prices everywhere he goes. There are two big questions here: Are rising gas prices going to sink Obama’s presidency? And, either way, is there anything that can actually be done about them? High gas prices are unquestionably a pain for many Americans.
March 31, 2011
The public uprisings spreading like wildfire from Tunisia to the Persian Gulf have been referred to collectively as the “Arab Spring.” But in fact, as the Obama administration crafts its policy responses, it should strive to avoid this unifying narrative, lest it obscure the unique challenges faced by each country, as well as the distinctive ramifications that each uprising has for U.S. interests.
Urban Shrink Rap: Dealing with Decline
March 29, 2011
In the wake of the release of the 2010 Census data, how to address shrinking cities, like the stunning Detroit decline, is again a topic for debate. As my colleague Jennifer Bradley points out in a New York Times “Room for Debate” post, unbuilding cities is expensive. She argues that, considering the extent to which the federal government subsidized development, cities should be allocated funds for unbuilding, or at least be allowed to repurpose extent funding for demolition and the like. Another case where one-size-fits-all federal policy fails.
The Existence Of Crime Is Not A Racist Myth
March 28, 2011
Thomas Sugrue, writing in the New York Times op-ed page, calls the fear of crime cited by white Detroiters a pretext for racism: Those who left the city cited various reasons: desire for a little green space, new housing, better schools, freedom from crime.
Documenting Detroit’s Decline
March 24, 2011
There are many statistics emerging from the Census that dramatically document Detroit’s decline. My favorite, from the Changing Gears public radio project is this one: In 1950, Detroit had 1.8 million people, and about 200,000 were employed in manufacturing, more than one in 10. Today, 20,000 of Detroit’s remaining 714,000 people work in manufacturing, or about one in 50 residents.
Demographic Trivia Question Of The Day
March 24, 2011
How much, in percentage terms, has the white population of Detroit declined from its high in the mid-1950s? Answer is in the comment section.
A New State of the States
March 22, 2011
What are states good for? The 19th century answer was that states are a critical counterweight to federal power. The 20th century answer was that states are laboratories of democracy--tinkering with the beta versions of laws and policies before other states or the federal government adopted them on a large scale. The 21st century answer is that states are the enablers and supporters of metropolitan economies. One problem: States don’t really think this way. According to law, all the component elements of metros--cities, counties, townships, villages, etc.--are creatures of the state.
Songs of Nuclear Horror
March 18, 2011
Sprinkling some vinegar to counteract the oily Graham Nash, David Crosby provided a bracing moment of skepticism toward the generally sanctimonious pop-star posturing documented in No Nukes, the movie centered on a series of concerts and rallies staged to protest nuclear power and nuclear arms in 1979. Pop musicians are not particularly well-equipped to speak with authority on issues such as nuclear policy, Crosby said at a press conference captured in the film; but they have a public forum, he said, and can’t help themselves.